067 - What is Computer Audio Card

A Sound Card is a component inside the computer that provides audio input and output capabilities. Most sound cards have at least one analog line input and one stereo line output connection. The connectors are typically 3.5 mm minijacks, which are the size most headphones use.

A sound card converts digital data to sound. This allows you to listen to music from your computer using speakers or headphones. Learn about the different types of sound cards and how they work. 

A motherboard on most computer systems has an integrated sound card which is often sufficient for many users. However, to get higher quality sound you can upgrade to a separate sound card which uses better and more expensive components. 


Audio files on a computer consist of digital data just like any other file on a computer. Sounds we can hear consist of waves that travel through the air - sounds are analog. 

The primary function of a sound card is to translate between digital and analog information, just like a video card.

Sound cards typically have four major components:

DAC: digital-to-analog converter
• Which makes it possible to convert digital data to analog sound 
ADC: analog-to-digital converter
• Which makes it possible to make digital recordings from analog sound inputs 
PCI: Peripheral Component Interconnect 
• An interface to connect to the motherboard, typically using Peripheral Component Interconnect
Input and Output connectors
• so you can plug in headphones, speakers or a microphone
• many computer systems have speakers and a microphone built-in, but connectors allow you to use higher quality external devices to play or record sound

On some sound cards the two types of converters are integrated into a single coder/decoder chip, referred to as a CODEC. Some sound cards also have their own processing unit called a digital signal processor (DSP). 

This takes some of the load of the central processing unit (CPU) to convert between analog and digital. Similarly, some sound cards have their own memory. Sound cards without a DSP or memory will use the motherboard's CPU and memory.

Audio card is also known as: sound board or sound card.

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